‘Change Begins With Me’ lands Lai Mohammed in court, Artist claims rights

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Ramon Oladimeji

A creative artist, Akin Fadeyi, who claims ownership of the original idea behind the “Change Begins With Me,” campaign recently launched by the Federal Government, says he is not afraid of being sued by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Fadeyi said this in a letter dated September 29, 2016 he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, through his (Fadeyi’s) lawyer, Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN) of the Aare Afe Babalola Law Chambers.

Days after the Federal Government launched the “Change Begins with Me,” campaign in Abuja, some media reports had quoted some persons claiming that the idea behind it was stolen by Mohammed from Fadeyi.

The persons, who claimed to be Fadeyi’s close allies, claimed that the Federal Government’s project was based on Fadeyi’s anti-corruption media campaign project tagged, “Not in My Country.”

They claimed that Fadeyi had earlier shared the idea with Mohammed, who showed interest and asked the artist to submit video clips, after which the minister allegedly cut ties with Fadeyi.

Fadeyi, in his letter to the President, said he had received threat of being sued by the Minister of Information and Culture over the claims being made by his allies.

Counsel for the artist, Adenipekun, however, said his client was not daunted by the threat of Mohammed’s lawsuit and was prepared to file his defence anytime the suit was filed against him.

Adenipekun clarified that his client did not sponsor any of the persons who had accused Mohammed of stealing Fadeyi’s idea.

The lawyer said Fadeyi was a patriotic citizen and a private businessman, who would not do anything that would make him appear to have been sponsored to rubbish any government effort.

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He said that was why he had remained silent while the controversy lasted and also instructed his crew members not to say a word.

But Adenipekun said Fadeyi’s silence did not mean that “he would not defend his work and hard-earned intellectual property in a court of competent jurisdiction at the appropriate time.”

He urged the President to initiate an investigation into the allegation of intellectual property theft trailing the “Change Begins With Me” project to be able to know the truth.

The letter read partly, “At the opposite end of our client’s private rights, in the media reports, is a very crucial project of the Federal Government by which the government seeks to encourage individual change in the citizenry in the hope of a holistic national change. Such a project is not one that ought to kick off dogged with debate and controversy.

“Already an important orientation project is being overwhelmed by negative reports and backlash. We, consequently, urge Your Excellency to initiate a thorough investigation of the respective positions of the parties in the ultimate interest of the all-important war against corruption.

“We also wish to reiterate to Your Excellency that in the event that Alhaji Lai Mohammed makes good his threat to go to court, which our client urges him to do, our client reserves the right to come out to put up his defence and that whatever steps our client takes in defending his right should not be interpreted as fighting the government.”


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